Why A Shipping Container is The Perfect Choice for Your Café Business

Looking to open a café business? Good shout. Thanks to their low cost of stock, cafés offer an incredibly high profit margin. And it’s not like coffee or food is ever going to go out of style!

That being said, you’ll find many obstacles on your way to opening a successful café and starting your own business. To start with, you’ve got to find the perfect location for your new establishment. This is where used shipping containers can help. In this post, we’ll explore why personality is key for cafes, and how a shipping container could be the perfect fit…

What is the key to opening a successful café business?

In our opinion, it all starts with a simple question. “What can you offer to your customers that the big chains can’t?” And as it turns out, the answer is actually just as simple – personality.

The general public is tired of faceless café chains that feel like walking into a shopping centre. They want something new and exciting – a place that makes them feel like they’re making their own choice. But how can you offer them that?

If you ask us, it’s hard to see past the physical space where you’ve set up shop. That’s right. If you truly want your café to exude personality, it can’t be located in yet another boring high street unit. Instead, it needs to be unique and convenient at the same time. And we’ve got the perfect idea – converted shipping or storage containers.

You’ve read that right. Now, let us explain why a shipping container is the perfect choice for your café or food business.

4 reasons why a shipping container café is a great idea

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The worst thing about opening a brick-and-mortar business? Without a doubt, it has to be paying extortionate rent prices. But what if we told you that you can build your own space without shelling out thousands of pounds?

Enter the converted shipping container – the brand-new business trend that has taken the industry by storm. From a shipping container office to seasonal business space, just about any sort of business can benefit from a shipping container facility. Here’s why…

        1. Shipping container businesses are in vogue

Roadside cafe made from a shipping container. (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The UK has a long history of industrial-inspired architecture and exterior decoration. So, it’s no surprise that converted shipping containers have become the talk of the town for business decorators. To hammer our point home, let’s have a look at some recent cafés in the biggest cities in the United Kingdom.

  • We’ll start with Manchester, where they’ve got Hatch – a new pop-up retail space that has become one of the most popular locations in the city centre. What makes it special? That it’s comprised exclusively of converted containers.
  • If you go down to London, you’ve got the trendy Pop Brixton – a shopping village made of shipping containers.

Converted shipping containers have become so popular that even the big chains are following suit. In Taiwan, the renowned architect Kengo Kuma has designed a multi-storey Starbucks made of 29 shipping containers.

And in the UK, Costa has just opened their first-ever shipping container café in Loughton.

           2. A shipping container café is mobile

This is one of the biggest benefits that a shipping container business has over traditional retail spaces, you’re not restricted to one area as you are with permanent structures. In fact, it’s a particularly huge advantage to have when you’re opening a café. Say, for example, that your preferred location on weekdays is nearby a busy construction site or office area. 

Of course, that same location wouldn’t quite work over the weekend. But with a shipping container café, all you have to do is transport your business to a different location. Because shipping containers conform to UK size standards, you can move them on the road hassle-free by using an angled bed trailer. 

          3. It’s very easy to convert a shipping container

When you think about shipping containers, the first thing that comes to mind is a sturdy metallic structure that’s not exactly easy on the eye. However, it’s extremely simple to make a shipping container business look good. Unlike with traditional retail spaces, you can customise your shipping container café as you see fit. The industrial grade steel exterior ensures that your space will stand the test of time.

A converted shipping container is basically a blank canvas on which you can project your personality or brand image. With a shipping container café, there are no restrictive building codes to comply with – nor landlord approval to get before you make any modification.

        4. It’s a cost-effective alternative

Property prices are going up – and that includes renting and buying retail spaces. Opening a business in these difficult times is hard enough as it is – which is why finding cost-effective alternatives to renting retail units is more important than ever. And that’s where converted container shipping spaces come in.

Compared to traditional business units, container conversions are extremely cheap. Let’s do the maths. If you’re renting, the average retail unit in the UK costs around £23 per square foot per month. Let’s say you’re opening your café in a small retail unit of 20 square feet retail unit. That means that the rent for your retail space will cost you more than £400 a month – around £5,000 a year.

Now, let’s look at your hypothetical shipping container café. On average, a second-hand 20ft shipping container will cost you around £3,000 – two grand less than renting a retail unit. And remember that you’ll actually own your business premises. No more rip-off rents and restrictive leases!

On top of that, opening your café business in a converted container will save you tax. If your container’s rateable value is below £12,000 (and it will be), you won’t have to pay any business rates! These cost savings will help you with your day to day business operations and ensure you can invest your cash flow in other ways.

Get in touch for global shipping

At Seaspace International, we have over 30 years experience shipping goods across the world and storing products in our world class storage facility. Get in touch today to discuss your import and export needs.



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